BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are on top of the football world, Super Bowl champs for the sixth time in franchise history.
While many of the players are still celebrating their Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the New England brass is hard at work preparing for the 2019 season. And with every year, there is bound to be some turnover on the roster, as other teams try to poach away the Patriots’ top talent on the free agent market. This off-season, there are a handful of key components set to hit the open market.
So which of these players will be back and which of these players will be wearing a new uniform when they report to training camp in July? ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss joined Steve Burton on WBZ-TV’s Sport Final to break it all down:
Trey Flowers, DE
2018 Regular Season: 15 games, 7.5 sacks, 57 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles
2018 Playoffs: 2 sacks, 6 total tackles
“The way I see him is similar to Dont’a Hightower a few years ago. Hightower is a player who has a very specific value to the Patriots scheme that probably isn’t as high to other teams around the league,” explained Reiss. “Trey Flowers is similar. All it takes is one team, and now you have Brian Flores in Miami, Matt Patricia in Detroit and Mike Vrabel in Tennessee. All it takes is one, but I still think in the end that Flowers’ value to the Patriots is higher to them than to other teams. I think there is a chance he’s back here.”
Stephen Gostkowski, K
2018 Regular Season: 27-of-32 field goals (84.4 percent); 130 total points
2018 Playoffs: 5-of-6 field goals (83.3 percent); 25 total points
“I still think he has great value to them, and I know people get frustrated that he misses a field goal in the Super Bowl and has missed some in the past in big games. But he still has great value with kickoffs, made a great kick in this last Super Bowl, and I don’t think the price tag is such where you look at it and say ‘we can’t get this done.’ I think he’ll be back as well,” Reiss said of Gostkowski, who has been booting field goals for the Patriots since 2006.
Trent Brown, LT
“The big offensive tackle did a great job and is going to make himself a lot of money on the open market,” Reiss said of the left tackle. “It’s a long shot [that Brown is back] just because you have Isaiah Wynn, who you drafted in the first-round last year to be your left tackle of the future. If you think Brown can be your right tackle, maybe you do something with Marcus Cannon there. But in the end, I think another team will look at Brown and say, ‘wow, he started every game at left tackle for the Super Bowl champions, let’s open the vault for him.'”
Malcom Brown, DT
“I wonder if he would be considering a different scheme. Those big defensive tackles in New England are asked to two-gap, do the tough work, and maybe he wants to be in a penetrating scheme,” said Reiss. “Maybe he looks elsewhere, because they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option which would have been at $8 million or so this year, so that tells you how they value him as more of a two-down player. Maybe there is another team that sees him as a three-down guy.”
Chris Hogan, WR
2018 Regular Season: 16 games, 35 receptions on 55 targets, 532 yards, 3 touchdowns
2018 Playoffs: 8 receptions on 18 targets, 58 yards
“I do [think he’s gone],” Reiss said of Hogan. “While he could be back and has been valuable to them, I just look at his three years with the Patriots. He didn’t have the most productive Super Bowl and maybe he looks for an opportunity where he can be more of a top guy.”
Rob Gronkowski, TE
2018 Regular Season: 13 games, 47 receptions on 72 targets, 682 yards, 3 touchdowns
2018 Playoffs: 13 receptions on 19 targets, 191 yards,
While Gronkowski isn’t a free agent, retirement talk has been rampant with the tight end dating back to last off-season.
“It wouldn’t surprise me [if he’s back],” said Reiss. “The way Gronk has talked since the season ended, I don’t think he’s made a decision. I think that’s actually positive, and I truly believe that could go in either direction and it wouldn’t surprise me. I think the Patriots would welcome him back if he decides to comes back. I don’t know for sure, but that is me reading the tea leaves.”
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